Jump to content

1925 Maxwell/Chrysler won't start


Max4Me
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've posted this the the Chrysler and Maxwell forums for added visibility.

 

I started and ran my 1925 Maxwell/Chrysler in early timid November of this year, and it ran perfectly. About 3 weeks later I went to start it to prep for a local Christmas parade and it would crank, but not fire. I have the vacuum fuel pump and there is gas going to the carburetor (clear glass filter just prior to carb is full). I did rebuild the carb about 18 months ago and it's been working fine. I pulled the coil wire and grounded it and got a clean spark. I then pulled the #1 plug wire, grounded it and got a spark. I even did one thing I am usually against- I gave the carb a quick shot of starting fluid and no indication it even wanted to fire up. Today I cleaned the distributor cap contacts and the rotor. I also pulled, cleaned, and reset the gap (.020 according to the manual) on the points. I also pulled a plug and it looks OK (no heavy soot or fouling apparent). When not in use I have a battery tender on the battery so that should not be an issue; besides, it cranks fine. Any thoughts on what I've missed or what I should check next will be greatly appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe you can see gas in the sediment bowl, but is it actually getting into the carburetor? The float valve could be stuck shut. If the carburetor has a drain on it, open and check for sure. Another thing, could have stuck valves. Pull the plugs and check compression.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark,

Thanks for the reply. I will check both things just to be sure but I'm not convinced of either. Even if the float was stuck and no gas going thru, a shot of starting fluid should have fired even for just an instant.  Also, forgot to mention before starting fluid I squirted a little gas into carb throat with no effect. As for compression, if it ran fine 2 1/2 weeks previous, why would compression suddenly drop so low on all cylinders such that nothing fires? Still, your comments are valid and I will check both tomorrow. Thanks again!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Bloo said:

You have spark all the way to the plugs? For sure? Is it nice and hot? If not, try a new or different condenser.

Yes. Spark at the plug. You are right, though. I did't think the spark was as hot as from the coil so I thought about the condenser, but my experience with bad condensers has always been "no spark" at all. Always a first time.🤨 Thanks for you thoughts. I will try to get out and replace the condenser tomorrow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree that it is something simple. Agree with not a hot enough spark also. Should be blue and at least 1/4 to 1/2 and inch jump. 1/8 or less and something is failing. Condenser, Windings in the coil. A multi meter is a valuable tool in diagnosing electrical problems. Otherwise you are working blind. Also check the timing to be sure something has not jumped.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may be a swag (super wild a$$ guess) as I know nothing about a 25 Maxwell but when I had trouble with my 38 Studebaker electrical problem good old Ed came to the rescue and said it was the distributor. I had no idea what he meant so he had me send it to him. In less than 15 minutes he had it diagnosed and fixed. One of the wires was broken and shorting out. If you are just the slightest bit more knowledgeable about car electrical systems you may be able to understand what he was talking about. He put it on a tester and from the readings he knew what was wrong. Good luck and as I said this is just a swag, I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path. 
dave s 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Put a squirt of gas in the intake and try starting. You'll know pretty quick if you have a fuel or spark issue. Generally, If it runs for a few seconds, it's fuel supply. If it doesn't, probably spark. Check the plugs too to see if they are wet after cranking. Other than being flooded, wet plugs are another indication of poor spark. These are just some pointers from being a small engine mechanic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding my Maxwell that won't start: first, thanks for all the suggestions.I've been trying to track down a 6 volt coil and condenser. Got one at a parts house that said they were 6 volt but the insert in the coil box says it's 12 V. I have some electrical knowledge (if you grab one wire and nothing happens, leave the other one alone!) I can use a multimeter and understand ohms and volts OK, but coils are another story. Will a 12V coil/condenser work in a 6V system without causing damage? Parts are Standard coil #UC15T and condenser is Standard DR90T. Info from internet searches are all over the place and no help. Thank you for your help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any farm supply store and most NAPAs will have a 6V coil

 

image.png.14de43661f9d110251eced7807b54e7b.png

go to the basics...

Lay a plug on the head and watch it spark during cranking, I have had condenser issues, they die for almost no reason (but not very often), pick one up at the same places, condensers are the same (12 and 6V).

 

To use starting fluid on a updraft engine you almost have to have someone cranking the engine to draw in the fuel.  I would suggest a small gravity fed gas can, I use an old lawn mower fuel tank. (in a well ventilated area, preferably outside, with a fire extinguisher handy)

 

If the timing has skipped you will have to find top dead center and check the number one cylinder piston is up.  I had a Mustang skip the timing chain, same problem.  Not sure if the Maxwell has a chain?

 

Valves will stick, I like to put some marvel mystery oil down each spark plug in the spring to loosen everything up, about a teaspoon per cylinder (let it sit a couple days)

 

It should be simple, if the spark is weak I would start with the condenser.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fuel to the cylinders:

Iam not a fan of using starter fluid it and avoid it at all costs. One engine I work with has primer cups so its very easy to check if your getting fuel to the cylinders (and adaquate spark for that matter) - if it only fires on the primer fuel than you know the carb or fuel delivery system is at fault.

 

If I have an engine without primer cups I take the time to remove a number of plugs and give a squirt of fuel into the cylinders. I had to do this with a compressor motor recently. It would fire when primed but that was it. As it turned out that particular updraft carb has a selenoid that opens and closes a needle valve to ensure rapid shutdown. As it turned out the selenoid was sticking.

 

Diagnosis is all about isolating the fault - (what isn't at fault is just as important as what is) and working one potential solution or component at a time. 

Edited by Terry Harper (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

sc38dls: My understanding the Flamethrower is still a 12V coil, though from what I've read low resistance 12V coils should work on 6V systems, others say no- hence my confusion. Who's right? The second issue is my coil is mounted horizontally and this coil (and many others) are oil-filled for cooling and mfgs. say do not mount horizontally as the oil could leak and cause premature failure. 

 

I am not a fan of starting fluid but as a last ditch effort I tried, but not even a small shudder. Parts houses seem to say they have 6V coils but when they come in they are 12V. Next stop: farm/tractor supply places. Thanks to all for the valuable info.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pertronix says that coil is for six volt systems. It was recommended by a world class mechanic that works on high end pebble beach class cars. It’s the one he uses on all his six volt cars. It’s been working in my 38 fox six months now without any problems. I had purchased one from a parts store that when tested was no good. When the flame thrower was tested right out of the box it was fine. It’s just a suggestion that I know works in a six volt and you asked what works. 
dave s 

Edited by SC38dls (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have some vey specialized electrical expertise in communications and RF (radio frequency) systems. My automotive electrical systems knowledge is mostly hobby and my own vehicle maintenance based. I would not call myself an expert on automotive electrical. As a "used to was an engineer", I do not know what marketing and modern engineering has done to automotive electrical components in the past thirty years. But I do know that those same marketing and modern engineers have screwed up a lot of other things in those same thirty years.

Something else I do KNOW! Back in the 1950s and well into the 1970s? Automotive coils came in several varieties, some tailored to specific model cars. Most had one high voltage connector that went to the center of the distributor cap. A few had other routing variations, and a few had two high voltage output connectors (I personally never worked on anything that had one of those, but did see a couple of them years ago). Most common coils had two (count them, 2) low voltage connectors. A few had three low voltage connectors.

Most six volt electrical systems clear back into the 1920s (some even earlier!) used common "six volt" coils with the single high voltage connector and two low voltage connections. A few marques back in the 1910s and 1920s used twelve and even twenty-four volt systems, and sometimes their wiring was rather strange.

When the major manufacturers decided to switch to twelve volt electrical systems, there were several reasons for doing so. One of those reasons, was a more reliable starting system that enabled cars to be started under harsh weather conditions by designing them to run on six volt, but allow starting with the full twelve volts going to the coil. This required switching between a "running" voltage which by one of several means would drop the voltage to the coil for normal running use. And then allow switching to a "bypass" voltage that would provide the full twelve volts to the coil for the duration of the starting cycle. General Motors favored an external resistor which was generally quite consistent in its value, and usually gave a fairly precise voltage for normal running. Ford on many models used a length of resistor wire, which tended to vary from one piece or length of wire to the next. Those Fords tended to run coil voltage anywhere from four to eight volts, and made points, plugs, and condensers wear out in different ways, and requiring service at longer or shorter intervals (I had a lot of fun with that helping a friend years ago!).

Whether external resistor or resistor wire, MOST coils in the 1950s and into the 1980s were actually six volt coils, whether the box or specifications said so or not! They had to be because the running time was on six volts in spite of the fact that the electrical system was twelve volts.

The other major reason for manufacturers to switch to twelve volt electrical system is a matter of the electrical laws of physics (and good old Ohm's laws!). The higher the voltage (at given current demands)? The smaller the wire can be. Manufacturers were able to save millions of dollars by switching automobiles to twelve volt and using a gauge or two smaller wire! The coil, being run at six volt, still needed the heavier wire inside, and the amount of wire wasn't enough to not take advantage of the starting advantages (and selling points!) by switching between twelve and six volts going to the coil.

 

So, practically all "two low voltage connection", single high voltage connection, coils will work on nearly all 1920s through 1950s six volt electrical system automobiles. With a few rare exceptions.

 

Automotive ignition condensers are very basic as well. Although sizes, mountings, and connection types vary a lot, most automotive ignition condensers can be made to work on most automobiles. 

 

I have seen and read of a few cases where people that knew how, were able to use a piece of newspaper between two license plates wired into the distributor to limp into town from out in the wilderness. The capacitive value wasn't quite right, ran rough, but better than walking ten or fifteen miles in from out in the desert! I never tried it myself.

 

From the beginning into and through most of the 1960s, automotive ignition condensers were made by rolling a couple layers of thin aluminum foil together with a layer of very fine paper between them. Condensers had to be routinely changed (usually about every 3000 to 5000 miles) because the harsh conditions of heat cycles, oil contamination, and vibration would cause both the foil and the paper to break down. What part and how it broke down, the condenser would either weaken badly or maybe short out entirely. Either way, it was difficult to predict, could be slowly or suddenly, and rarely did they last 10,000 miles before leaving one stranded.

Some interesting things happened during the late 1960s and early 1970s. New materials replacing the paper, and processes bonded the aluminum in ways that neither the aluminum or Mylar was breaking down very much. On the other hand, corporate quality control became so bad, that new condensers were not reliable. Old-school thinking continued to say the condenser should be routinely replaced every 5000 miles. Maybe just my luck? However, even buying high end brands I wound up with several new condensers that failed right out of the box, and a few others that would fail in the first couple hundred miles. If a new condenser lasted more than a thousand miles? It likely would never fail (practically speaking?).

I had an old pickup I used as a service truck for seventeen years. I put over a half million miles on that truck, replacing the engine once. The first few years, I would replace the condenser once in awhile. And I always carried the old one for the first few thousand miles. I had several new condensers fail after a couple hundred miles, and the old one would go back in (often on the side of the road!). Eventually, I gave up on the new ones, and after one used one was was installed the third time due to a new condenser failure? I quit changing them routinely. For over 200,000 miles! NOT exaggerating! The funny thing is, after I did replace it again (figuring 200K was a bit excessive?)? The new one again failed. And that same 200K condenser went back in (on the side of the freeway!) and stayed with the truck until I sold it, worn out and tired, but still running smoothly. I figured that condenser had about 350,000 miles on it when I sold the truck! That bonded foil/Mylar wrap is tough! (IF it is put together right!)

A couple points from all that. One, check your condenser, whether it is new or not! Do not assume that a new one is any good! Two, If you check it, and find that it is good? Do NOT change it just for routine's sake! Three, If you put a new condenser in? Carry a spare. Preferably a known good used one if you have one.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

TerryB, Thank you for posting that!

That is a nice writeup you posted about the capacitance values. I am curious what year that was published, as it reads like stuff I was reading fifty years ago! I will try to avoid going into long diatribes here about modern day engineering. I eventually got out of the communications systems work because I was sick and tired of the "fits all" and "plug and play" approaches and broken promises marketing engineers were passing out even twenty years ago. Things I see today wouldn't have ever been accepted by the people that trained me! I couldn't have tossed out those numbers as automotive wasn't my area of expertise (and I was only marginally good at circuit electronics anyway?). Given proper schematics, I could repair almost anything that didn't require a microscope? I hated sitting at a workbench, although I probably had thousands of hours staring at waveforms on an oscilloscope, and I was usually out in the field, or up on a tower. I was usually the guy that had to find which circuit had failed, then took it into the shop to be properly repaired, although I also often repaired circuits in the field. Capacitor failures were common, and I usually carried a few dozen of varying values hoping I would have one close enough to work properly and fit in the space.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark G,

When one studies history, it is incredible how people created the means to figure out what worked and why it worked. People born into a world that lit oil lamps to light their homes at night, figured out how radio waves worked! Mankind stepped from early civilization and very basic technology that took hundreds of years to develop to its peak around the 1890s, in thirty years lived in huge cities, working in factories, fed by tractors, entertained by phonographs and radios. Thirty years between 1895, and 1925, and almost overnight, all of mankind changed tremendously! And commercial television broadcasting began only six years later! (Look it up!)

 

The Wright Brothers did not invent the airplane. They invented the science necessary to develop the airplane! They developed the wind tunnel in order to discover how to make an airfoil that would actually work. They created the mathematics specific to aerodynamics and disproved long-held hypotheses that had previously held back that development! What they got wrong? OTHER people used THEIR science to find what worked better!

 

From A G Bell to Tesla and Marconi through a hundred lesser known names to Philo Farnsworth, mankind went from beating drums and smoke signals to radio and television, in less than a hundred years.

They did it by learning the science behind all sorts of phenomenon. Even Benjamin Franklin's "key on a kite string" played a role in it all.

 

All mankind's problems could be solved by technology, and REAL science is the key. What we lack most is the wisdom to choose the right pathways.

 

Guess I drifted again.

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

Mark G,

When one studies history, it is incredible how people created the means to figure out what worked and why it worked. People born into a world that lit oil lamps to light their homes at night, figured out how radio waves worked! Mankind stepped from early civilization and very basic technology that took hundreds of years to develop to its peak around the 1890s, in thirty years lived in huge cities, working in factories, fed by tractors, entertained by phonographs and radios. Thirty years between 1895, and 1925, and almost overnight, all of mankind changed tremendously! And commercial television broadcasting began only six years later! (Look it up!)

 

The Wright Brothers did not invent the airplane. They invented the science necessary to develop the airplane! They developed the wind tunnel in order to discover how to make an airfoil that would actually work. They created the mathematics specific to aerodynamics and disproved long-held hypotheses that had previously held back that development! What they got wrong? OTHER people used THEIR science to find what worked better!

 

From A G Bell to Tesla and Marconi through a hundred lesser known names to Philo Farnsworth, mankind went from beating drums and smoke signals to radio and television, in less than a hundred years.

They did it by learning the science behind all sorts of phenomenon. Even Benjamin Franklin's "key on a kite string" played a role in it all.

 

All mankind's problems could be solved by technology, and REAL science is the key. What we lack most is the wisdom to choose the right pathways.

 

Guess I drifted again.

 

I would say that is why STEM studies are so important. 

 

Unfortunately too few of the current generation have the will to take the hard classes to get into those fields that will improve society & mankind.   Four years of math, physics, chemistry, ect.. is not an easy path.  It takes a lot of work.  Been there, done that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

TerryB, Thank you for posting that!

That is a nice writeup you posted about the capacitance values. I am curious what year that was published, as it reads like stuff I was reading fifty years ago! I will try to avoid going into long diatribes here about modern day engineering. I eventually got out of the communications systems work because I was sick and tired of the "fits all" and "plug and play" approaches and broken promises marketing engineers were passing out even twenty years ago. Things I see today wouldn't have ever been accepted by the people that trained me! I couldn't have tossed out those numbers as automotive wasn't my area of expertise (and I was only marginally good at circuit electronics anyway?). Given proper schematics, I could repair almost anything that didn't require a microscope? I hated sitting at a workbench, although I probably had thousands of hours staring at waveforms on an oscilloscope, and I was usually out in the field, or up on a tower. I was usually the guy that had to find which circuit had failed, then took it into the shop to be properly repaired, although I also often repaired circuits in the field. Capacitor failures were common, and I usually carried a few dozen of varying values hoping I would have one close enough to work properly and fit in the space.

Wayne, it’s from an A.E.A. Training manual from the mid 1950s.  The manual was on automotive electricity and how things work.  Good book for questions like this.  Copies often show up on EBay for not much money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/22/2021 at 2:59 PM, Mark Gregush said:

Maybe you can see gas in the sediment bowl, but is it actually getting into the carburetor?

Bingo! Possibly. I was able track down 6V coil and condenser at NAPA (from a 49 Chevy of all things). Unfortunately it didn't help. I pulled all the plugs and, though to really bad, gave them a good cleaning and checked the gap. Before installing them I drizzled a little gas in each cylinder. Once the plugs were installed and reconnected I cranked it over, and it fired up for about two seconds. I then disconnected the fuel line to the carb and drizzled gas in it and it seemed to take a fair amount. Unfortunately it still did not start or even fire. So next chance I get, the carb comes off for further inspection.

Edited by Max4Me (see edit history)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

43 minutes ago, 72caddy said:

Sounds like spark is good then. How old is the gas in the tank?

Good question. It is about 3 months old but has Sta-bil in it so should be OK (keyword should). For the record, when I first got the car,  not knowing it's maintenance history, I removed the tank and cleaned it out and flushed the fuel lines, so crud should not be an issue (again, keyword should). You are right. These things can be frustrating, but I am persistent if nothing else.  It's just a matter of check this or that then move to the next. So, going through the carb will be next on the list of suspects.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update on '25 Maxwell/Chrysler no start: OK, I checked fuel transport system. Fuel in tank, in fuel lines to the vacuum fuel pump, fuel from the pump to the glass filter ahead of the carb and fuel in the float bowl (removed drain plug on the bottom and fuel ran out). Before removing the carb to work on it, I checked the mounting bolts thinking if they were loose the intake manifold could be sucking air ahead of the carb and there wouldn't be enough vacuum in the carb to pull fuel through. Well, it was worth a try. So now the question is what is the carb doing with the fuel once it gets there? Carb is on the workbench ready for inspection once I get the chance.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread surprises me, in the sense that in my misspent youth if our junkers wouldn't start but had enough spark to even  see, the next step was gas in the cylinders to see if it ran a few licks...

Is everything getting so complicated the old  dumb-kid shade=tree mechanic skills are fading away???

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/12/2022 at 1:27 PM, Mark Gregush said:

Plugged jet(s) or idle circuit or other passages. ?

I wish, but took carb apart this morning, clean as a whistle. Was gone through about a year ago anyway.

On 1/13/2022 at 10:02 AM, JFranklin said:

Shade tree test: If you think it might be fuel delivery try some starting fluid. If you think it might be ignition look for spark, or have your friend hold the wire and crank the engine over!

Have already tried this. Good spark all the way to the plugs (friend did not appreciate the test). Had plugs out and drizzled gas in each cylinder, fired up for about 2 seconds so spark is clearly OK.

 

So now I have a bigger problem that probably is not part of the issue. After removing the carb I noticed carbon build up on the top near where it mounts to the intake manifold (which bolts to the exhaust manifold). Yep. Gasket leak. The worst part is while taking the manifolds off I noticed what looked like (and is) a hairline crack in the exhaust manifold. It is so small I doubt it is interfering with combustion. Top pic is outside of manifold, second is inside. Interesting block set up, it appears only two ports are intake. They appear wet, but it is gas not oil (not slippery and smells distinctively of gas). Bottom pic is the exhaust manifold. Notice the intake port is glazed. Thoughts?

 

Suggestions as to whether or not I can get the manifold welded to prevent more cracking or leave it alone? Sources for new exhaust and intake manifold gaskets? 

C2FBB39D-5435-43F7-A9A6-F4E79DB71178.jpeg.853725a8db14cc6615e11eab2348b4b2.jpeg0755C731-A1B6-4334-9773-39CEF551F163.jpeg.7eaee6b759a79e97c79964d1e7126a65.jpeg1DAF3979-64C4-42FB-8675-C929F686E274.jpeg.00fb852289b4c472376347a3e4fed565.jpegE13C1EE3-9E74-4F8B-B1C7-02B3E2E19BE7.jpeg.812a01118445ada13607d516038c23d2.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/12/2022 at 8:01 PM, Bud Tierney said:

This thread surprises me, in the sense that in my misspent youth if our junkers wouldn't start but had enough spark to even  see, the next step was gas in the cylinders to see if it ran a few licks...

Is everything getting so complicated the old  dumb-kid shade=tree mechanic skills are fading away???

Bud, not for me.  In a previous post (see above), I mentioned I tried exactly that, and, yes, it did fire for just a couple of seconds. Thanks for the reminder, though, just in case. We (read ‘me’) often forget to check the simple **** first! 🤔

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...